It is easy to feel despair at the events of the last few weeks. At the sometimes-toxic nature of our politics, the unresolved legacy of the past that eats into our future, tarnishing everything it touches, including young people born into what should have been a prosperous and promising peace.
While the skinny teenagers filmed rioting on the streets of Belfast and beyond are a minority, even one child left behind and sacrificed to the prejudices of our past is one too many.
We are at a difficult crossroads. Northern Ireland is changing - has changed - so as to be unrecognisable and at times confusing for those who believed the unionist majority this state was designed to support would sustain it into the next hundred years.
Change has come fast, much faster than many anticipated. It seems obvious that many within unionism are unprepared for what that change means to their way of life and the head-in-the-sand approach taken by many within political unionism certainly hasn't helped in that respect.
The census results, due to be released in January 2022, will tell a story about how Northern Ireland has changed demographically and how people view themselves.
While there are those who see themselves as either exclusively Irish or British, will that population survey show an increase in those who view themselves as Northern Irish?
The growing middle ground we hear so much about.
The people that will decide the fate of this island in any future border poll, the section of the population who would opt to either leave or remain as part of the United Kingdom based not on their strongly held identity but on economics.
Our future fate in any referendum, whether in five years or 10, will be decided by those who will look at where they will have better healthcare, education, job prospects and quality of life and decide based on that, not on a flag.
With violence back on the streets and a new generation of young people being introduced to the type of dangers we all hoped were in the past, it would be easy to become pessimistic about where we are heading.
But last week there were glimmers of hope, respectful gestures that will hopefully go some way to repair the damage caused in recent times. On Saturday, the tricolour flew at half mast on all Irish state buildings to mark the death of Prince Philip.
It may seem like a small gesture from one neighbour to another, but in terms of healing the divisions caused in recent years it was an important one.
Brexit and those difficult years of negotiations caused not just damage to north/south relations, but east/west as well.
With Dublin and London often at loggerheads during that time, undoing much of the good work taken by others to repair British/Irish relations.
I have only a passing interest in the royal family, but while I feel no attachment to them, I understand that for many people on this island they mean much more and therefore their role in helping heal rifts should not be underestimated.
When the Queen and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, made a state visit to the Republic in 2011, at the invitation of the-then president, Mary McAleese, it was a moment of great significance.
When the following year she shook hands with former IRA commander turned Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, the significance was huge.
Since then, though, much of the good work done in the past has not been followed up as it should have been. When the Queen Mother died in 2002, Sinn Fein ignored the royal death, making no official public statements.
Contrast that to the reaction to the death of Prince Philip and there was a huge difference in the party's reaction.
Mary Lou McDonald used the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh to apologise for the 1979 bomb attack that killed Lord Mountbatten and three other people, including two children.
"Of course I am sorry that happened, of course that is heartbreaking," she told Times Radio.
Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister, Michelle O'Neill, wore black in the Assembly chamber in a debate to pay tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh.
"I do think you have to take from the example which they themselves set, which was even though they did endure personal loss, the royal family set about working towards the advancement of peace and reconciliation," she said.
While these words are no more than would be expected from a joint head of government on the death of a prominent public figure, they are significant given the context.
They show that regardless of what the future brings, it is entirely possible to be respectful of other traditions.
To make gestures that help heal.
As the last month has demonstrated, words count, words can heal or they can divide, but actions also matter and while we are at a crossroads, it is possible to take the right path, rather than one than takes us back to the past.